Yosef was sold for 20 silver pieces.

Yerushalmi (Shekalim 2:3) and Bereishis Rabbah (84:18) both say that since the 10 brothers each received 2 silver pieces, which were worth half a shekel, their descendants would later be obligated to give half a shekel as a Kaporah.

The Korban HaEdah on the Yerushalmi explains that Binyomin was not with them, but does not mention Reuven.

Reuven was not present at this sale and had no idea it had happened until he returned to his brothers. As is seen in Bereishis (37:29) and Rashi's explanation there.

Does it say anywhere that the brothers would have split their share of 20 silver coins with Reuven and did Reuven accept his share?

Pirkei DeRebbi Eliezer (38) says that Reuven told his brothers not to kill him, but to throw him into the pit so that he could return later to remove him and save him. It then says that the brothers sold Yosef for 20 silver pieces and each of the brothers took 2 pieces of silver to buy shoes. Reuven however, was not there yet, so it seems they left him 2 silver coins, but did Reuven accept it?

  • 3
    Does this answer your question? Asara Haruge Malchut (Ten Martyrs), why were 10 Rabbis killed?
    – robev
    Dec 28, 2022 at 17:57
  • There it addresses Reuben's culpability
    – robev
    Dec 28, 2022 at 17:57
  • 2
    I know Reuven was culpable in the general sale and the events that took place. But my question is specifically regarding the profit from the 20 silver coins.
    – Shmeeeel
    Dec 28, 2022 at 18:15
  • But I think that this answer there addresses your question
    – robev
    Dec 29, 2022 at 6:23
  • Again, I know Reuven was present and involved in throwing Yosef into the pit, but as I quoted the Pirkei DeRebbe Eliezer this was to remove him later. I fully understand that he would still get punished when this plan failed. However I am very specifically trying to find a source that Reuven accepted his monetary share in the sale. Nothing to do with punishment or culpability.
    – Shmeeeel
    Dec 29, 2022 at 6:30

1 Answer 1


There are meforshim who explain that technically, the brothers did not actually sell Yoseph. IIRC it was Rabbi Kornfeld on verse 28. The brothers withdrew leaving Yosef in the pit and the Midyanim heard him, pulled him up and sold him. When Reuven came back and found him gone, he went to the brothers and asked what had happened. Since the brothers had thought he was still in the pit, they came up with the plan to pretend that he was dead. They assumed that he had been sold to the caravan on its way to Egypt.

Since that was their original plan, they were blamed for that. Yoseph thought that they had sold him since that was all that he knew. He may have thought his father knew about this as well since he had not tried to redeem him.

Verse 30

And he returned to his brothers and said, > "The boy is gone! And I where will I go?"

seems to imply that the brothers did not know what had happened to Yosef.

Rabbi Hirsch (unlike Rashi) explains:

... as further the text of verse 28 says that it was not the brothers, but these Midianite merchants who drew Joseph up out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites, this way of taking it has much more to recommend it. The brothers wanted tosell him to the Ishmaelites meanwhile the merchants came along, fetched Joseph up and they sold him to the Ishmaelites.

  • Who are these meforshim? The Torah says they sold him
    – robev
    Dec 29, 2022 at 6:22
  • According to those meforshim what does the pasuk mean when it says 20 silver pieces? Furthermore how do those meforshim deal with the countless sources that I brought discussing the 20 silver pieces?
    – Shmeeeel
    Dec 29, 2022 at 12:45
  • @Shmeeeel They say that the brothers were considered guilty because they had intended to sell Yosef and that Yosef was sold as a slave. Note that each time he was sold, the price was increased to allow each group of sellers to make a profit as well as to cover the supplies needed to keep him alive as well as the salaries of the guards. Dec 29, 2022 at 17:08
  • @robev IIRC it was Rabbi Kornfeld. The Torah treats the brothers as guilty since they intended to sell him. Since Reuven did not succeed in rescuing him, and agreed to the original plan, he is also treated as guilty. Dec 29, 2022 at 17:11
  • 1
    @sabbahillel I have explained multiple times that I am not looking for sources that Reuven was guilty, responsible or culpable, all of those I am aware of. I am looking for a very specific source that Reuven willingly accepted his share of the 2 silver pieces out of the 20 silver pieces.
    – Shmeeeel
    Dec 30, 2022 at 7:17

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